Saturday, November 08, 2008

What the Election Tells Us About the South: Part II

One major finding from the election is the racial divide that still exists in the South. Two thirds of white voters in the South voted for McCain, whereas in the rest of the country white voters just barely preferred McCain. We like to think we've overcome racism, but obviously we haven't.

We saw some ugly results of this is Mississippi. According to the Daily Mississippian, the Ole Miss campus was disrupted by racial incidents on election night. The Clarion Ledger details other incidents of racial incidents, as does WAPT.

Contrast this with the results of a USA Today/Gallup poll showing national optimism about racial relations, with two thirds thinking problems will be worked out - the highest since the poll was started in 1963.

I was so proud of Ole Miss at the first Presidential debate, as it tried to show the country how far it had come since 1963 when James Meredith was the first black to attend. Now it has to contend with these racial incidents on election night, which probably negated all its efforts.

Racism and bigotry are related to low socioeconomic and education levels - both of which are prevelant in the South. Mississippi has the lowest median family income and the lowest education level in the country . If we are ever to climb out of our poverty, we have to overcome this bigotry. No industries will come to a state with our racial history until we show we've overcome it. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, you're right. Mississippi has come a long way, but the state still has a long way to go. However, you don't have to look to other parts of the state to see the bigotry, just read the post-election blogs (responses to articles) on the Natchez Democrat's web site.

The education problem will not be solved soon and it isn't simply a problem with Mississippi under-funding the state's schools. There is a cultural problem as well. Many people in this state are proud to be uneducated and ignorant. It is an honorable thing.

On the other hand, the more educated our people become, the better off racial relations will be. You cannot go to a large university and avoid contact with people of other races. When you do, you see that people of other ethnic and racial backgrounds are no different than you as far as intellect and ability go. The differences are cultural. It was at a large public university in Mississippi that I dated a black woman for the first time, something I would not have considered growing up in Natchez.

As a post election commentator said on a cable news network, Karl Rove should have nightmares every time a university holds a graduation ceremony, because that means there are fewer conservative voters.

vjack said...

I'm not sure the main factor in explaining how Mississippi voted was race. I think it was an important one, but I see religion as being as important. As long as our state continues to be a hotbed of Christian extremism, I think we are going to behave differently from the rest of America in many important ways.

Of course, you are right to comment on education too. Perhaps low educational achievement in our state are related to both racism and Christian extremism.

Anonymous said...

Because Mississippi whites overwhelmingly voted for McCain, you construe that as racism? Typical Democrat. Everything is racist. It's because he had opposing fundamental differences politically and fiscally that WE did not vote for this inexperienced fraud. It is because of the MEDIA, yes the media non-coverage of Obama, that he got elected. I'd argue he got elected BECAUSE he was black, not in spite of it. If he was white and his name was Joe Smith, he'd never been elected to the Illinois State Senate much less the US Senate. Racism....jeez that argument gets soooooo old and abused. It's simply amazing that if you don't vote for the black guy you are a racist. That is some shallow thinking in 2008.

This guy won on style NOT SUBSTANCE. Period.